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Telescope Peak in October
Trip Report

Telescope Peak in October

 
Telescope Peak in October

Page Type: Trip Report

Location: California, United States, North America

Object Title: Telescope Peak in October

Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 22, 2010

Activities: Hiking

Season: Fall

 

Page By: ROSENCLIMBER

Created/Edited: Nov 10, 2010 / Nov 15, 2010

Object ID: 678032

Hits: 2335 

Page Score: 79.04%  - 10 Votes 

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The Approach

It took me nine and a half hours to drive here from Walnut Creek, CA. There was a bit of rain on the way into the Park. The pavement turned to dirt about a mile and a half before the kilns. I wondered why the Park Service elected to stop the paving at that particular point; was it to discourage excess crowds?

I parked at the kilns and packed up to Mahogany and camped. It took me about two hours to go the 2 miles and 1,200 feet elevation gain to the campground. I could easily have driven the one mile to Thorndike Campground. The dirt road to there was good, just a bit steeper than the road into the kilns. Between Thorndike and Mahogany the road gets steeper and there are some washboard portions. I was glad I didn't try to drive to Mahogany in my Honda Fit. There was a Honda Civic up there at Mahogany so it can be done, but they must have bottomed out a few times on the way up.

At this time of the year Thorndike had no campers in it, and Mahogany was less than half full with a few quiet campers. Nice.

Morning

The rain stopped and the full moon came out that night. In the morning it was 38 degrees and the clouds had all sunk into the surrounding valleys. I ran around taking pictures and expecting that it would be a clear day for the hike up Telescope. I start hiking around 9:15 AM. Some other parties started hiking at night under the full moon and arrived on the summit at around sun-up. It must have been beautiful. I've also noticed that a number of peaks have little bivouac sites near the summit. Who is it that's doing these climbs and camping out near the top?

Death Valley Morning
Sunrise over Death Valley

The Start

The maximum temperature recorded in Death Valley was 134 degrees in 1913. The lowest temperature was 15 degrees, also in 1913.

The interpretive sign at the start of the trail said that the Indians used to spend their summers up here gathering pinon pine nuts. Suddenly it made sense how the Indians survived in this desert - they migrated to obtain the optimal temperatures and food supply. Fits right in with the National Geographic issue for November on Migration. Indians still live in Death Valley, the Timbisha Shoshone. Nowadays they "migrate" to Lone Pine in the summer. You can read about them at Wikepedia or at timbisha.com

The other surprise on this trip was the rugged canyons. Of course everyone knows that you can see the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere from here, Badwater at 282 feet below sea level, and the highest point in the 48 states, Mt. Whitney, at 14,495 feet. But the canyons are quite impressive to see from here, too, at 11,000 feet deep from here as measured to the Valley floor! The Grand Canyon is around 6,000 feet deep, so the canyons here are almost a mile deeper than the Grand Canyon! Of course the Grand Canyon is unique in its steepness, color and different rock layers, but the canyons here are worth a mention, too.

Clouds Over Death Valley
Death Valley. This is a desert?

The Hike Up

I was also struck by the quiet here. Not many birds or squirrels or anything making noise, other than the fighter planes from the Navy base at China Lake, of course! Where are all the animals, did they just go into hibernation?

I was also wrong in my weather forecast - the weather socked in so that there were clouds below, clouds overhead, and fog and wind at ground level. One hiker ahead of me turned back at 10,000 feet because it was socked in. I wasn't about to turn back after driving 422 miles to get here; I could at least bag the summit, even if there was no view. As it turned out, a hole in the clouds miraculously appeared and I saw Badwater from the summit. You could also see the Sierra Crest with the clouds rolling over them at times. You just never know.

The maximum temperature during the day was about 60 degrees - by and large, good temperatures for hiking. There was fresh snow on the summit.

It took me about five and a half hours to hike the seven miles to the top, going at an easy pace and stopping frequently to take pictures.

Trees Form Tunnel
Going towards the tunnel.


Bennet Peak
First glimpse of Bennet Peak.


Sierra Crest
Clouds rolling over Sierra Crest.


Telescope Peak
Telescope Peak. Staircase to heaven.


Badwater
Badwater in the distance from the Summit.




The Hike Down

It took me three hours and ten minutes to get down. I was surprised to see that my round trip time - about eight hours and 45 minutes - came in just under the nine hours alloted in "California Hiking" by Foghorn Outdoors press.

I got back after sunset, although there was still ample light and my ace in the hole - the full moon - was rising.

On the way back the clouds largely dissipated, too, so that it ended up being about 90% clear. All in all, the weather added variety, interest and beauty to the trip. Coulda' been worse.

Telescope Peak
Telescope Peak in late afternoon.


Moonrise Over Death Valley
Moonrise over Death Valley.

The End

At the University of Colorado, Boulder, when I was there in 1964 the Hiking Club used to have this greeting, they would say "Borack!" Does anyone out there in Adventure Land know what that actually means? Do they still say it???

I will assume it meant something like Aloha - hello or goodbye or both. So, Borack! to you.

Images

Death Valley MorningClouds Over Death ValleyMoonrise Over Death ValleyBennet PeakTelescope PeakTrees Form TunnelSierra Crest
Telescope PeakBadwater

Comments


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Viewing: 1-7 of 7    

EricChuGood report!

EricChu

Voted 10/10

And you took beautiful pictures!
Posted Nov 11, 2010 5:00 am

ROSENCLIMBERTelescope Peak

ROSENCLIMBER

Hasn't voted

Thank you for your comments on my Telescope Peak trip, Eric.
I enjoyed your "Vers la Flamme", too!
rosenclimber
Posted Nov 15, 2010 12:29 am

mrchad9Nice report.

mrchad9

Voted 10/10

Think about attaching your photos to the report, using the editor toolbar at the top of the page. You can also attach a profile photo. Your picture at sunrise is very nice.

"Who is it that's doing these climbs and camping out near the top?"
I backpacked in with intentions of camping on the summit one Thanksgiving, but it was far too cold and windy to carry it out. Ended up camping at the saddle below the summit and going up the next morning. Was a great trip.
Posted Nov 12, 2010 2:20 pm

ROSENCLIMBERRe: Nice report.

ROSENCLIMBER

Hasn't voted

Thanks for the tips, Chad.

Now that you mention it, I can see that camping on the summit could be spectacular. It was awesome just hiking up there and spending 15 minutes at the top.

By the way, my wife really got a kick out of your little stuffed toy friend.
Posted Nov 15, 2010 12:46 am

ROSENCLIMBERRe: Awesome shots!

ROSENCLIMBER

Hasn't voted

Exactly! The "desert storms" provided abundant photo ops - not the constant gloomy drizzle one might get in other places.
Posted Nov 21, 2010 8:39 pm

burtch07Excited

burtch07

Hasn't voted

I am planning a memorial hike in late March to Telescope Peak and your insight and trip report with photos was awesome. I can't wait to get out there and tackle this beast. It is on my list of things to conquer while stationed in California. Great stuff, thanks
Posted Feb 14, 2012 5:47 pm

ROSENCLIMBERRe: Excited

ROSENCLIMBER

Hasn't voted

Glad you liked it, man, and thanks for your feedback - it will help me compile better trip reports in the future. Enjoy your trip in March!
Posted Feb 15, 2012 11:30 pm

Viewing: 1-7 of 7